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WFA Scope of Practice Document Update

Document Date: December 26, 2012
Document Source: Wilderness Medicine Institute of NOLS
Tod Schimelpfenig
Posted:  December 25, 2012

The Wilderness First Aid (WFA) course, widelytaught by numerous providers, can be burdened with unrealistic expectations
of the topics and skills that can be taught in a basic layperson first aid
In 2010,
sensing a need to clarify what first aid skills and knowledge are realistic and
practical for a WFA provider representatives from
the major wilderness medicine educators created a WFA Scope of Practice
(SOP) document.  The SOP is in
essence a job description of what a WFA provider should know and what skills
they should and should not be able to perform. 
The original writing group convened this fall to review and update the WFA SOP.  Two
years have passed since the original document and with the
publication of the WFA Skills Retention
Study a review was timely.  The latest
version articulates the minimum skills and knowledge base for a WFA
Another ongoing project is a review of the medical evidence supporting WFA practices.  Several representatives of wilderness medicine schools are on this Wilderness Medical Society working group.  We hope to see publication of this work in 2013. 
This SOP document is not binding on anyone.  It is
not crafted as a curriculum.   It reflects the consensus of a
group of providers who created and have taught this course to tens of thousands
of students over three decades and who are actively engaged in the practice of
wilderness first aid.  It is our hope that it provides some guidance to
those who teach WFA and guidance for the outdoor program manager deciding on
the appropriate certification for their staff and for the consumer who is
choosing between different certifications.  
We invite observations and comments, which can be submitted to any
member of the working/writing group, and for organizations/individuals to
indicate their support for this work by adding their signatures.
Tod Schimelpfenig
Curriculum Director
NOLS Wilderness Medicine
December 2012